DANIA BEACH—FL—AUGUST 18, 2011– One of only a handful of private organizations dedicated exclusively to the science-based conservation of marine fish populations and biodiversity, the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) is making important, new scientific discoveries on everything from migratory and reproductive patterns of various pelagic species, to breakthroughs in DNA analysis, to uncovering seafood fraud, exposing what some restaurants are actually serving on your dinner plate.
A collaboration between renowned marine artist, scientist and conservationist, Dr. Guy Harvey and Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) Oceanographic Center, the GHRI was established in 1999 with a mission to provide the scientific information necessary to understand, conserve and effectively manage the world’s marine fishes and their ecosystems.
Photo, from left to right: Dr. Mahmood Shivji, Director of the Guy Harvey Research Institute; Guy Harvey; Dr. George Hanbury II, President & COO of NSU; Steve Stock, President of Guy Harvey Inc. and the GHOF; John Santulli, VP Facilities Management, NSU; Dr. Richard Dodge, Dean of NSU’s Oceanographic Center
GHRI’s major research discoveries include:
–Development of DNA testing to identify sharks in the global fin trade and determining impact of this trade on shark populations,
–Proving that sharks can reproduce by virgin birth
–Discovering the existence of a new billfish species, the roundscale spearfish.
The GHRI has received widespread attention, including Time and Newsweek magazines and is on display in the Smithsonian’s Ocean Hall.
On a blistering South Florida July afternoon, Dr. Mahmood Shivji, a NSU professor and director of the GHRI, strides along the NSU Oceanographic Marina located at the terminus of John U. Lloyd Beach State Park and opposite bustling Port Everglades. He stops and nods in the direction of a busy construction site where cranes and men in hardhats are building America’s largest coral reef research center.
“Our new home,” said Shivji, proudly pointing to NSU’s Center of Excellence in Coral Reef Ecosystems Science (CoE CRES), a state-of-the-art $40 million facility dedicated to the research and conservation of coral reef ecosystems and their surrounding environment. “This puts us on the global map allowing us to address national and international priorities in coral reef research and enhancing our focus at GHRI to conserve and manage marine fishes and their ecosystems.”
The new center, according to NSU Oceanographic Center officials, will focus on five thematic areas: 1) Impacts of global and local stressors; 2) Geospatial analysis and mapping; 3) Deep sea coral reefs and biodiversity; 4) Genetic and genomic connectivity; and 5) Hydrodynamics. It is currently scheduled for completion in May 2012.
With new laboratories that will allow for research collaboration, training and staging for fieldwork, Shivji and his staff of graduate and post-doctoral researchers are looking forward to moving into their new home and expanding their conservation research work.
GHRI’s research, education and outreach activities for the last decade have been supported by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF), AFTCO Inc., the Save Our Seas Foundation, extramural research grants from the federal government and private foundations, philanthropic donations by private businesses and individuals and Nova Southeastern University.
Shivji and staff are currently working on numerous studies that include sharks, billfish and coral reef fishes. Project examples include:
* Development of DNA forensic methods to assist the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office for Law Enforcement to identify if protected sharks are being landed in US fishery
* Using DNA forensics to determine the species composition and geographic origin of shark products (e.g., fins) in global markets
* Investigating migration patterns of sharks using a combination of satellite tag tracking and DNA analysis. Sharks being studied, include tiger, blue, oceanic whitetip, shortfin mako and sand tiger sharks
* Investigating stock structure of sharks globally. Species currently under study include, great hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, porbeagle, blue, tiger, dusky, oceanic whitetip, silky, night, bull, grey reef, Caribbean reef and basking sharks
* Investigating impacts of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on deep sea sharks
* Impacts of overfishing on genetic integrity of Nassau grouper spawning aggregations in the USVI and Cayman Islands
* Development of DNA forensic methods to identify billfish body parts in the Atlantic
* Investigating migration patterns of blue marlin using satellite tag tracking
* Assessing impacts of roundscale spearfish misidentification on previous white marlin stock assessments
Building on the long history of top-tier research conducted by the GHRI, Dr. Harvey furthered his conservation efforts by founding the GHOF in 2008. The GHRI continues to function as the research branch of the GHOF while the Foundation endeavors to keep the public informed through outreach and education programs.
With shark, blue fin tuna, grouper and other endangered populations around the world continuing to spiral downward, marine scientists such as Dr. Mahmood Shivji and Dr. Guy Harvey, are working around the clock.
Their inspirational work along with hundreds of colleagues around the world will give these animals a fighting chance for survival and a sustainable environment in which to thrive.